Stop Apologizing for All the Books You Haven’t Read

Discussion Post

Introduction

In 2013, the latest year I could find publication information, Bowker reported that 304,912 books had been published in the U.S. alone (including new titles and re-editions).  It seems evident that the sheer number of books now available means that no person can keep up with the market.  Even if you only read a certain genre or are an expert in a certain field and limit yourself to new scholarship in that area, even if you only try to read the new works published in a given year, let alone all the other major works previously published, you are unlikely to be able to do so.  Still, we pressure ourselves, and others, to have read every major release, to know every new book.

It almost seems as if our attitudes towards reading have not changed with the times and we continue to imagine that it’s actually feasible for an individual to read every important book over their lifetime.  Perhaps one could in the Middle Ages when texts were scarce and the price limited them to elite individuals who had the time for study and leisure.  In today’s world, however, there are plenty of factors that mean a person will not have read all the new releases or will not be bragging about having reached 200 books on their Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Life Circumstances

Even supposing one had the inclination to want to attempt to read all the  major new releases in a year (perhaps limiting this to major YA releases or even just major YA fantasy releases), the average individual is unlikely to be able to achieve this goal for obvious reasons.  Many people hold jobs, attend university, have a family, and have various social commitments. Some people hold jobs and attend university and have a family and fulfill social commitments all at the same time.   It’s a lot easier to churn through a larger number of books when you have fewer responsibilities or feel less stressed.  Reading fewer books does not necessarily mean that you are not as good a reader as another individual–it just means you have different life circumstances.

Varying Priorities

Maybe you don’t have a job that requires more than 40 hours per week from you, you don’t have a family to care for, and you don’t have a stressful school workload at the moment.  You still may not choose to dedicate your life to reading books.  Why?  Because you enjoy other things, too!  You may like to bake, to go to concerts, to go hiking, to work on your novel, to learn a new language, to sing silly songs to your cat.  Your other interests will take away from your reading time. That’s okay.  You should feel that you are able to have other interests without being ashamed of your low Goodreads Challenge goal.

Access to Books

Some individuals don’t have the same access to books as others.  Even if you don’t buy all your books and choose to go the library (assuming you have one close by that you can get to), your library may not stock all the latest releases that you want.  You could try to get some through ILL or you may just decide to search for some lesser-known gems.  Whatever solution you try is okay.  It does not matter if you haven’t yet read that new book everyone else is talking about.

Conclusion

We still talk to each other as if it’s possible or desirable to have read all the books, but the reality is that no person has the ability to keep up anymore.  And, even if a person tried, that might mean they would have to ignore other aspects of their life such as their job, family, or hobbies.  But there’s no real need to have read every latest release.  Reading isn’t meant to be a competition or some sort of test of dedication or intellect.  Reading is meant to be enjoyable.  If you’re enjoying your reading, you have nothing to apologize for.

Krysta 64

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30 thoughts on “Stop Apologizing for All the Books You Haven’t Read

  1. Briana says:

    Every one in awhile I’ll meet someone who’s snotty about the fact I haven’t read a particular book, and I want to roll my eyes. I read quite a large number of books each year, though it’s not a competition in the first place. But there’s no way everyone is going to have read everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, there are always those people, but I think they’re taking a risk. Now if someone finds out they haven’t read some supposedly necessary book, they have no way to defend themselves because they’ve been arguing there’s no excuse!

      Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I read an awful lot, but there will always be gaps in my reading knowledge. I don’t think I’ll ever read Moby-Dick, either. I don’t care if it’s a classic! 😉

      Like

      • Briana says:

        I don’t know. I’ve read Moby Dick, and while it’s not on my list of favorite books or anything, my gut reaction was “Wow, this isn’t nearly as boring as people say!” There is the infamous “whale chapter,” but you can just skip over it without missing anything. I don’t see the point in DNFing there, which some people do, since you can just not read that particular chapter. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, sometimes it seems like there’s some sort of competition going on, but it shouldn’t feel that way at all! We should be able to enjoy what we are able to read.

      Like

  2. Alex @ readstolive says:

    Very well said! I need to try and take it easier on myself for not having read the fad of the month. When you don’t have (seemingly) unlimited money to preorder every book that strikes your fancy, it stings a little. But it’s okay.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, there’s no way I can buy all the new releases. I usually have to wait until the library gets around to order the newest books (assuming they do).

      Like

  3. Nandini Bharadwaj says:

    I fall in the category of people who don’t have access to the latest fancy books because of my location, the exchange rates, the fact that Book Depository doesn’t ship to India and that the libraries near me don’t stock the kind of books I want to read. Even though eBooks make my eyes water if I read them for too long, I have to stick to them. So it’s very hard for me to catch up on the latest bestseller in the genres I love reading. 😦
    This post really helped in coming to terms with the fact that I can’t do so. Very well-written!

    Like

  4. Shanti says:

    I totally agree! I was thinking about this recently, because there were so many books in the goodreads YA awards, and the Epic reads book shimmy awards that I hadn’t read–and I seriously read a lot of YA. Reading All the Books is such an unrealistic expectation. I live in India, where there isn’t much of a publishing industry (but there is amazon…) and only really popular YA books get published. But that’s okay, though I love to whinge about it, because it means that I use my libraries so much more (digital libraries are so fabulous), and read older books, which is okay. It does sort of bother me how focused on new releases some people are. This is such a great post–thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I hadn’t read most of the Goodreads Choice books, either, and I was truly baffled because if I read a lot and if I hadn’t read all these books, who had? How are we voting? Name recognition?

      I enjoy older releases, too. Plus I have to read older releases because I obviously wasn’t able to read everything when it first came out. I am confused by people who won’t read older books. What if you missed a great read from 2012? Do you just ignore it? What about classics?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael J. Miller says:

    “Reading is meant to be enjoyable. If you’re enjoying your reading, you have nothing to apologize for.” – AMEN! This is something we all need to be reminded of. Thanks for the thoughtful (and important!) post.

    Like

  6. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight says:

    This is SUCH a fabulous post- and a reminder that I know I am in need of from time to time. The amount of books published in a year is mind-blowing! Puts things in perspective for sure. And you are so, so right- life happens, and I have to stop beating myself up for having responsibilities- or, what I tend to do, read and blog and such until I am so overwhelmed and tired that I am resentful of it. It IS supposed to be fun, after all!

    Like

  7. Joey @ thoughts and afterthoughts says:

    And here I thought it was just in the good nature of being Canadian and Hufflepuff-ian that I apologize with the generic expletives as to self-depreciating comments as to the inability to read ALL the books.

    I’m totally fine with reading my limited 30 books though; so long as I’m doing things at my own pace and not feeling as though I -have- to rush through things haha.

    In truth, I am probably the worst reader/blogger to be anyone’s model member because I seriously prize napping/YouTube/gaming/television over reading. Reading is like…the 8th or 9th thing I’d want to do after a workday (and even lesser on a weekend).

    It is true though, seeing as how we don’t have the time to read everything, wisely choosing your books is quite possibly the biggest factor in achieving some semblence of success re: all the books. I’m not good at this though as I keep myself afloat with 2* all day hah.

    In any case, people should just continue doing whatever they want whenever they want, fully embracing that each of our infinity-plus-one TBRs will never be achieved. It is a lose-lose.

    Cheers,
    Joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts.

    Like

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